Written by: Executive Director Dominic Tartaglia
While Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco, many other people have found that Downtown San Luis Obispo has claimed theirs. For good reason too! When I look at all that this community has going for it, my heart swells with pride knowing I am one of the lucky few who gets to call this home. We are smack dab in the middle of one of the most happening seasons for Downtown with Concerts in the Plaza in full swing, Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market full of great produce, the Fresh Picked Concert Series on select Thursdays and gorgeous Central Coast evenings. What is not to love about any of those things?
In my off time I find that my heart lies with the outdoors and more specifically with mountain biking and trail running in our local open space. The old idiom, “Practice makes perfect.” has always stuck with me and often times I find myself running for hours on end strengthening my heart and legs for some form of race. Similarly, our Downtown has developed into the heart of our community through many years of great shopping and consistently positive experiences when people come down to visit. Generally, the more times people visit Downtown SLO they fall more in love with the way it makes them feel.
I recall when I first started trail running, the miles were awkward and oftentimes painful to run but the more often I ran, the more comfortable I was and the more I enjoyed the trails. When guests first start coming to the Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market or Concerts in the Plaza they may find the crowds overwhelming and uncomfortable but after they got acclimated to the positive energy, something starts to click. Eventually, they start to share their routine with friends and bring newcomers with them. The endgame for them is being able to share their joy with friends after they have practiced the trip down here time after time and become skilled Downtown guides.
Looking back on 40 years I can comfortably say that the Downtown Association has put a lot of effort into being one of the nation’s top scorers with awards including the Great American Main Street Award, Best Urban Forestry Program and countless titles for top Farmers’ Market. Since there are no Olympic games for downtowns you might ask, “So what is the big game the Downtown Association is practicing for?” To me the answer is simply to win the hearts of people both near and far. If there were ever a gold medal to be had, it would have to be Tony Bennett singing, “I left my heart in San Luis Obispo.” A guy can dream right?